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Monday, August 21, 2023

The Kid From Denver - Paul Quinichette


The Kid From Denver

The Kid From Denver
Paul Quinichette
Produced by Chuck Darwin
Cover: Burt Goldblatt
Engineering: David Hancock
Dawn DLP-1109

Tenor - Paul Quinichette
Trumpets - Thad Jones, Renauld Jones, Joe Newman
Trombone - Henry Coker
Bariton Sax - Bill Graham
Piano - Nat Pierce
Guitar - Freddie Green
Bass - Ed Jones
Drums - Sonny Payne

Manny Albam - Come Rain Or Come Shine / Happy Feeling
Ernie Wilkins - Pardon The Blues, Please / Big Deal / Start Here
Paul Quinichette - Kid From Denver / Pennies From Heaven / Honeysuckle Rose

From the back cover: It's a long way from Denver to the "apple." 1800 miles as the crow flies – but for an aspiring young musician fifteen years ago, it was that and a lot more. And one kid from Denver – Paul Quinichettee – found that out. Hard as the road was, from an early age Paul apparently has known where he was going and has been willing to learn how to get there.

"The first turning point for me," Quinichette relates, "was the Chicago World's Fair in 1933. I was fourteen and taking in the exhibits with my mother. Among the attractions at this "exposition of Progress" was a jazz concert led buy Mezz Mezzrow. After a few houris, my mind was made up. I, too, was going to be a jazz musician."

Many a teen-ager goes thru a phase like that. It was characteristic of Quinichette, however, to act upon his conviction ion and stick to it. Returning to Denver, he applied himself systematically to the clarinet and the alto sax – and finally, tenor. His formal musical education was supplemented  buy stints at Denver University and Tennessee State College.

A long period of apprenticeship in the big bands of the early Forties gave Paul his basic turning. After a few gigs around Omaha with Nat Towles and Lloyd Hunter, he gravitated to Chicago and the Shorty Sherlock quintet. Regular desk jobs with Jay McShann, Johnny Otis in California, Louis Jordan, Lucky Millinder, Benny Carter, Sid Catlett, Jimmy Lunceford and Eddie Wilcox followed.

1945 found the "kid from Denver" beginning to make a dent around Manhattan. His work with the J. C. Heard combo at Cafe Society and with other small groups in that year did not go unrecorded – or unappreciated. A close association with Hot Lips Page ensued, terminating in 1951. By that time, Quinichette had worked for a decade in an atmosphere of musical revolution and counter-revolution, without losing his roots in "main stream" jazz or failing to respond to the new ideas and sounds of the period.

"I still have a collection of well-grooved phonograph records of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Lester Young to show what I studied most and where my greatest inspiration came from in my early career." When Wardell Gray, in 1950, introduced Quinichette to Count Basie with an eye to turning over his tenor chair in the Basie band to him, the "kid" was ready. "That was really the biggest thrill of my life to that point," he said, when Basie hired him.

Quinitette remained with the Count only two years, but the impression left on him – as this LP frankly documents – was indelible. Yet, by 1953, clearly the time had come for him to go his own way. He had been well schooled, but there is always the danger of learning too well. A writer for Downbeat reviewing the Basie band while Paul held the tenor post characterized his playing as "more like the "Press" (Lester Young) than "Prez" himself." This – as well as the "Vice President" title that Quinichette came by at about this time – was meant as a compliment, but to Paul it was also a warning.

Stimulating as the Basie association was, Paul has achieved a freer and more individual style since he has been on his own. His tone and general approach have undergone a refining process that bespeak solid musical growth. The fat has been sliced off, but the meat remains. Paul's solo work in "Pennies From Heaven" in this album might be selected to illustrate that taste and delicate touches that appear consistently in his playing today.

If the "kid from Denver" has learned anything at all for the long years of barnstorming, it is the importance of getting right down into the audience to make your pitch. He is no "ivory tower" innovator and is not embarrassed when he defines the primary function of the jazzman to be "to entertain." It has always been Basie's philosophy that it is not inconsistent to have a ball and to say something musically worthwhile at the same time. That attitude has probably rubbed off on Paul, if we use this LP as a gauge.

The personnel here are a simpatico group for Paul. It's a Basie band of reduced proportions (tho still "big") composed mainly of members of the "modern" wing of the current Basie band. Nat Pierce is the only one here who hasn't worn the Basie tie, but even he has done some arranging from the Count, and in his decorative noodling in this set, he shows that he also has "done time" with Basie spiritually, off not physically.

John Lewis once described what he thought Basie's aim in music was. He thought his ideal was "an integration of ensemble playing with projected – and sounded like – the spontaneous playing of ideas which were the personal expression of each member of the band rather than the arrangers or composers." (Metronome Yearbook, 1955). It takes skillful arranger to make it seem that way, however. Manny Albam and Ernie Wilkins have down enough work for the Count to supply Quinichette (and Thad Jones, Joe Newman and Henry Coker, too, for that matter) with all the space he needs to let his personality express itself.

Here then is a youngish group of musicians who, under Basie's tutelage, have learned to synthexize successfully the sounds and forms of the new jazz with the beat and drive of the old. When you speak of Basie you have to speak of a beat, and it is impossible not to draw special attention to the stimulus Paul Quinichette gets on this date from Freddie Green Sonny Payne and Ed Jones, the swingingest rhythm section this side of the moon.

For its variety and intelligent utilization of the talent present, this is a program to savor. Come Rain Or Come Shine pits Paul tastefully against a brass backdrop. He swings into a high-spirited strut and gets solid ensemble support. Pardon The Blues, Please is a stomping, earthy blues which shows the other side of Paul's nature. Here he is really "down with it", warm and uninhibited, communicating a basic emotional appeal. Start Here is a tribute to Basie in up-tempo, with Nat Pearce believably making like the Count at the Steinway. Pennies From Heaven harks back nostalgically to an older Basie day. Freddie Green's work is the solid link between the past and the present. Quinichette's solo here is one of his best.

Happy Feeling is a Manny Albam creation, with inspired take-offs by Quninchette and by trumpeters Thad Jones and Joe Newman. Honeysuckle Rose features Paul's subdued horn in subtle off-beat improvising to Freddie Green's unswerving beat. This is likely to be one of the favorite band for Quinichette fans. In Big Deal, arranger Ernie Wilkins makes effective contrasts of brass sonorities, while Henry Coker, towers the end, gets sassy and satirical over a firm walking figure supplied by guitar and bass. Kid From Denver gives almost everybody a chance to solo (get a load of Sonny Payne, man!) creating a kind of relay effect as each in turn, works over a riff reminiscent of "A Train". The Kid From Denver has arrived! – Gary Kramer

From Billboard - December 22, 1956: There are several tracks of happenings here that rate with anything produced this year. The mood is predominantly Basie, with ex-Basie-ite Quinichette starring in the role and style originated by Lester Young. The sidemen are from the current Basie band, with Nat Pierce filling in for Count on piano. Good programming mixes up swinging, intimate items with just sax and rhythm, with big blowing sides by 10 men. Basie trumpets Thad Jones and Joe Newman have sensational battle on "Happy Feeling." That, and the Quartet's "Honeysuckle Rose" are strong selling bands.

Come Rain Or Come Shine
Pardon The Blues, Please
Start Here
Pennies From Heaven
Happy Feeling
Honeysuckle Rose
Big Deal
The Kid From Denver

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